Bellevue Drug Company, celebrating its 70th birthday this year, is a Hammonton, NJ institution. We often think of younger companies being the first to adopt new technology, especially in the healthcare industry. But, owners Smitha Dasari, R.Ph. and her partner, Jigar (Jay) Patel, PharmD needed to find a more efficient way to have a conversation with patients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were making and receiving an overwhelming volume of phone calls.
“Our pharmacy management system can make automatic calls and send automatic reminder texts, but when the stay-at-home orders came into effect in New Jersey, we needed more than that. We needed to have conversations with our patients. It was impossible to make or take every call, so we were looking for a more efficient way to connect with patients and providers.” said Jay Patel.
As an existing client of Digital Pharmacist, Bellevue reached out to test the new HIPAA-compliant 2-way messaging tool, which has now been adopted by 700 independent pharmacies since its launch in September 2019.
“We were very motivated and especially concerned about refills that were not being picked up,” said Patel. “By deploying Digital Pharmacist’s 2-way messaging tool, a job that would have taken our techs 2 to 3 hours twice a week, now only takes an hour. Patients prefer messaging over phone calls. They can respond and explain why they haven’t picked up their medication or let us know if they prefer to have their medication delivered. We have seen around a 10% improvement in our return to stock numbers as a result of 2-way messaging.”
Bellevue is not alone. More than 700 pharmacies have used Digital Pharmacist’s 2-way messaging tool, and 400 pharmacies started using the tool in the months since COVID-19 was first reported in the United States on January 19. We have seen 5,000 conversations between patients and pharmacists about the virus. Additionally, since the beginning of the year, 7,500 of the total conversations have been with patients over the age of 65.
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